Best Ways to Book Etihad First Class Using Points [Step-by-Step]

Etihad Apartment, View from Seat with Partition Dropped

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When they released The Apartments, Etihad took first class flying to the next level. Considered by many to be the best first class experience in the world, The Apartments have come to define luxury flying.

Even on Etihad flights without The Apartments, you’ll still have a great first class suite and stellar first class lounge access.

Etihad first class is one flight experience you won’t want to miss!

A Look Inside Etihad First Class

Whether you fly in an Etihad first class suite or The Apartments, you’re going to have an amazing journey from the moment you set foot in the airport.

You can fly in the first class suite on several different aircraft including the Airbus A330 and A340, and the Boeing 777 and 787 (also known as the Dreamliner).

The Apartments are exclusive to the Airbus A380.

etihad guest first class suites
Enjoy a luxury experience in an Etihad first class suite.

With the first class suite, your comfortable, lie-flat seat has direct aisle access, and it is contained in your own suite complete with a refreshment cabinet, wardrobe, and privacy door.

Etihad First Class Apartment - Seat 3K
The Apartments on Etihad’s A380 are perhaps the best first class product in the world.

If you’re flying on the A380, you will enjoy Etihad’s premier first class product. Each Apartment comes with a wide, comfortable seat and a separate couch that converts into your bed.

Etihad First Class Apartment - Lie Flat Beds Made
Lie-flat beds are turned down with care by the Etihad Cabin Crew.

Your Apartment is definitely more of a room than a seat!

Etihad A380 Lobby
Relax and enjoy the company of your fellow premium cabin passengers at the in-flight lounge. Image courtesy of etihad.com.

You will also have access to an in-flight shower so you can feel refreshed upon arrival. Additionally, there’s an in-flight lounge where you can relax, have a bite to eat, and grab a drink with other first class and business class passengers.

etihad first class bar
Enjoy a drink or a bite to eat at the bar in the Etihad first class lounge. Image courtesy of etihad.com.

Before you board, you’ll also have the opportunity to visit the highly-rated Etihad First Class Lounge when flying out of their home airport in Abu Dhabi.

Additionally, you’ll have access to their premium lounges when departing from the U.S. and other cities around the world. Last but not least, Abu Dhabi also has a welcome lounge for you to enjoy upon arrival.

How To Book Etihad First Class

We’ve only just begun to look at why the Etihad first class experience is one of the most sought-after flights in the world.

Before we dig in some more, let’s talk about how you can book this awesome flight!

Etihad Guest

One of the easiest ways to fly Etihad First Class is online on their website. Image courtesy of etihadguest.com

Etihad’s own award program Etihad Guest is the most straightforward way to book Etihad award tickets, and it is the only way you can book this flight online.

To complete a booking online, follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to Etihad
  2. Select your route, travel dates, and class of service
  3. You will be prompted to log in
  4. Select your desired flight
    • You want to find Guest First award space (otherwise you will be overpaying!)
  5. Review the mileage cost and the taxes/fees
  6. Complete your first class booking

Here are some great example routes:

  1. New York City (JFK) – Abu Dhabi (AUH) non-stop one-way for 136,249 Etihad miles + ~$30 in taxes and fees in Etihad’s A380 First Class Apartments
  2. Los Angeles (LAX) – Abu Dhabi (AUH) non-stop round-trip for 310,002 Etihad miles + ~$97 in taxes and fees in Etihad’s 777 First Class
  3. Washington D.C. (IAD) – Abu Dhabi (AUH) non-stop round-trip for 272,502 Etihad miles + ~$97 in taxes and fees in Etihad’s 777 First Class

If you need more miles to complete a booking, Etihad has several credit card partners that can help you earn. You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points or Citi ThankYou Points to your Etihad Guest account.

These points currencies can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio. Transfers from Membership Rewards are generally almost instant, while transfers from Citi ThankYou Points can take up to a week.

Hot Tip: Check out our Transfer Partner Calculator in order to quickly determine the required number of points for your award!

If you’re looking for some more redemption ideas, check out our best ways to use Etihad miles!

Asiana Airlines Mileage Club

You can fly to the Middle East on Etihad Airways using Asiana Miles for some great prices! Image courtesy of flyasiana.com

Although using Asiana miles is not quite as straightforward as Etihad Guest, putting in the extra effort to call Asiana will definitely be worth it because it is the cheapest way to fly Etihad First Class.

So if you want to save your precious points, especially Marriott points, Asiana miles are a great way to do so.

Overall, it will cost you 160,000 miles round-trip or 80,000 miles one-way plus taxes and fees to travel from the U.S. to the Middle East.

If you have plenty of Marriott points or Asiana miles, follow these steps to book your Etihad First class flights:

  1. Navigate to Etihad Guest.
  2. Choose the route, first class, and your travel dates.
  3. Log into Etihad Guest. You may be prompted to enter a one-time password that is sent to your e-mail for verification purposes.
  4. Select the flight you want to take or click around the week calendar to look for availability around your best travel dates.
    • You want to find Guest First award space (otherwise you will be overpaying)
  5. Confirm the mileage cost and the taxes/fees.
    • When Guest First award space is not available, then you will see a ridiculous miles cost (900,000-1,000,000), which means this flight is unavailable for First Class award redemptions.
  6. Call Asiana Club at 1-800-227-4262 which is open 08:30-17:30 PST Monday to Friday and ask to hold the award reservation for up to 72 hours before transferring your Marriott points.
    • Sometimes, the agent won’t be willing to hold your flights. If that happens, politely hang up and call again and you should be able to get a representative to hold your flights.
  7. Transfer your Marriott points to Asiana Club.
  8. Confirm and reserve the tickets by calling Asiana Club back. Pay any applicable taxes and fees.

American Airlines AAdvantage

American Airlines Partner Award Chart
American Airlines miles can also be a great way to book first class on Etihad.

The American Airlines AAdvantage program was previously a favorite for many who had booked Etihad first class. However, in early 2016, American devalued their award chart and raised award prices.

While this was an unfortunate turn of events, American’s AAdvantage program can still be very useful. Unlike the Etihad Guest program, American requires you to book Etihad flights over the phone.

Here’s what you need to know.

  1. Visit Etihad’s website
  2. Select your route, travel dates, and class of service
  3. Find Guest First award space
    • To book with American miles, you must find Guest First availability on Etihad’s site
  4. Note the flight number, date, and time
  5. Call American Airlines’ Australian call center (+61-2-91011948) with Skype or Google Voice
  6. Ask them to search for first class award space on Etihad
    • You might have to provide the flight number
  7. Once they find the space, ask them to put the award on hold
    • Holds last 5 days
  8. Call the U.S.-based American Airlines call center at +1-(800)-882-8880 to complete your booking

You have many different options for redeeming AAdvantage miles, so don’t think using Etihad is your only choice!

Other Options For Booking Etihad

You can also book Etihad first class with Korean Air SkyPass and ANA Mileage Club

Note: on December 8, 2017, ANA suspended some awards on Etihad. Supposedly, codeshare routes can currently be booked. These codeshares are pretty limited; in fact, they’re virtually all short-haul flights within the Europe/Middle East region. There has been no subsequent updates on if/when full awards will resume.

Great Etihad First Class Redemptions

Etihad A380
Try The Apartments on Etihad’s Airbus A380. Image courtesy of traveller.com.au.

Generally, American Airlines will have better redemption rates than Etihad Guest. However, there are more ways to earn Etihad Guest miles, so that could be a good option for you as well.

One other important factor to consider is the fuel surcharges which can significantly increase the taxes and fees on an award ticket. Etihad will require you to pay these surcharges while American Airlines will not so your out of pocket costs will be lower with American.

Here are a few routes to consider if you want to try Etihad first class:

  • New York City (JFK) to Abu Dhabi one-way in The Apartments on the A380 for 80,000 Asiana miles, 115,000 American AAdvantage miles, or 136,249 Etihad Guest miles
  • Los Angeles to Abu Dhabi one-way in first class for 80,000 Asiana miles, 115,000 American AAdvantage miles, or 155,001 Etihad Guest miles
  • London to Abu Dhabi one-way in The Apartments for 40,000 Asiana miles, 62,500 American AAdvantage miles, or 87,750 Etihad Guest miles
  • Sydney to Abu Dhabi one-way in The Apartments for 110,000 Asiana miles, 100,000 American AAdvantage miles, or 136,249 Etihad Guest miles

How To Earn Enough Miles for Etihad First Class

Transferring to Etihad Guest

Etihad Guest miles can be transferred American Express Membership Rewards and Citi Thank You Rewards (both at a rate of 1:1) or from Marriott at a transfer rate of 3:1.

Recommended Amex Cards (Personal)

The Platinum Card® from American Express - There's currently a welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 3 months. This is our favorite card for getting into 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide (including Priority Pass) and we get about $2,700+ in value from the card every year.

Plus, get up to $200 in Uber credits annually ($15 per month and a $20 bonus in December) — and up to $200 in annual credit for airline incidental charges (e.g. baggage fees). For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, click here.
American Express® Gold Card - We love using this card as it earns 4x points at restaurants worldwide and 4x points at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x). There's no better card in our opinion if you eat out and/or shop at supermarkets regularly.

With a welcome bonus of 35,000 points after you spend $4,000 in your first 3 months and a $100 airfare credit per year, for many this is an easy addition to your wallet. For rates and fees of the Gold Card, click here.

Recommended Amex Cards (Business)

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express - Right now, there's a HUGE welcome bonus of up to 100,000 points. Earn 50,000 points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 50,000 after you spend an additional $15,000, on purchases within the first 3 months.

We get ~$5,525+ in value per year by leveraging many of the benefits & perks.

This is the best business card for lounge access as you'll get into 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide. For rates and fees of the Business Platinum, click here.
American Express® Business Gold Card - probably our favorite Amex business card because we earn 4x points across the top 2 select categories that we spend the most money in each month. The 4x points applies to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year. This means you'll max out at a (whopping) 600,000 points per year. After that, you earn 1x. For rates and fees of the Business Gold Card, click here.
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express - This is a simple card that earns you 2x points on any business purchase, up to $50,000 annually (then 1x). That makes for an easy 100,000 points per year! The card has no annual fee. For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus, click here.

Recommended Citi Cards

Recommended Marriott Cards

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card - Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Get automatic silver elite status each account anniversary year; and a free night award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card - earn 75,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. A solid card for business owners who will get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy silver elite status. Annual fee is $125. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Business Card, click here.

Cash and Miles for Etihad Guest Redemptions

We won’t get too much into it here, but you can actually reduce the number of Etihad Guest miles required for award redemptions. When you’ve found award space on Etihad Guest and are ready to confirm your reservation, you can actually utilize the Miles Plus Cash option, which allows you to use a sliding scale to customize your points and cash payments.

This effectively allows you to purchase points to use fewer Etihad Guest miles/top off your mileage balance for only 0.9 cents per point! You can do this for up to 25% of the ticket price, which is an absolute no-brainer.

This is a phenomenal value, and it should be considered heavily when making award redemptions using Etihad Guest miles.

When Should You Search for Award Space?

Etihad does not consistently release first class award space at a specific time. The sooner you have your travel dates narrowed down, the more luck you’ll have booking. While you might not find award space immediately, check back regularly.

What Do You Get With Etihad First Class?

Let’s talk a bit more about what you get during the Etihad first class experience.

First Class Lounge

Etihad First Class Apartment - Sydney Lounge
The First and Business Class Lounge at Sydney Airport.

In Abu Dhabi, you will have access to their exclusive first class lounge that includes a fully staffed bar with a wide selection of wine and spirits. You can also order food from the bar menu or head to the dining room for a sit-down meal.

If that weren’t enough, you can also utilize the Six Senses Spa and Style & Shave. As a first class passenger, you will have your choice of a complimentary massage, facial, wet shave, nail, or blow dry service.

You can also enjoy a nice cigar at the cigar lounge. If you’re a cigar lover, grab a beer or your favorite whiskey, sit back, relax, and enjoy a smoke.

Etihad also provides a first and business class lounge at 9 other airports: Dublin, London Heathrow, Los Angeles, Manchester, Melbourne, New York (JFK), Paris, Sydney, and Washington, D.C. They also partner with other lounges at airports across the globe.

First Class Dining

Etihad First Class Apartment - Dining Appetizer Duck
Enjoy a fine-dining experience at 30,000 feet.

From fine dining in the Etihad First Class Lounge to your in-flight meals, you won’t be disappointed with any of the food during your first class experience.

Your first class flight includes on-demand dining so you can choose what to eat and when you want to have it. The dining experience in first class is definitely built around your enjoyment!

First Class Shower

Etihad First Class Shower
Enjoy a refreshing shower when you fly first class on Etihad’s A380. Image courtesy of ausbt.com.au.

Finally, don’t forget to schedule your in-flight shower when flying The Apartment on the Airbus A380. The only other way to experience an in-flight shower is when flying Emirates first class, so don’t pass up this rare and exclusive opportunity!

Your shower includes 5 minutes of water with an easy pause control so you can wash without wasting water (or time). Once you are ready to rinse, you can turn on the water back on.

It might not sound like much time, but you can easily end up with 2 minutes to just relax in the water before your time is up.

If you’re connecting and didn’t get time to visit the first class lounge, maybe you’d like to shower early in the flight before getting settled in to sleep. Or perhaps this is your first flight of the day, and you’d rather shower toward the end of your flight so you’re refreshed upon arrival.

Either way, Etihad has you covered! Make sure to schedule your shower as soon as you board to ensure the time slot you want is available.

Unfortunately, Etihad cut their chaffeur service for all award flights, including those booked with their own miles.

Final Thoughts

It’s no wonder Etihad first class is a highly sought after ticket! The Apartments might just be the best first class product in the sky right now.

Whether you’re in an apartment or suite, Etihad’s first class is a luxury experience all the way through. Take advantage of fine dining, amazing service, and more space than imaginable in The Apartments. You’ll have more fun flying than ever before!

Now, go find Etihad award space and book your next adventure!

*Featured image courtesy of cntraveler.com

FAQ

What is the best way to book Etihad first class?

The easiest way to book Etihad award flights is through the Etihad Guest program. It is the only program that allows you to book online.

However, you can book using fewer miles through the American Airlines AAdvantage program.

What credit cards can help me earn miles to fly Etihad first class?

Etihad miles can be earned through cards in the American Express Membership Rewards Loyalty Program or the Citi ThankYou Rewards Loyalty Program.

What do I get when flying Etihad first class?

When you fly Etihad first class on the Airbus A380, you’ll enjoy the largest first class suite in the sky.

You can also take an in-flight shower and have a drink or a snack at the in-flight lounge.

Before your flight, you can relax with a drink or a cigar at the first class lounge. Don’t forget to get a shave, haircut, or massage!

Spencer Howard

About Spencer Howard

Always a fan of flying, it was only natural that Spencer was drawn to finding a way to improve the travel experience. Like many, he started this journey searching for cheap flights to take him around the world. This was fun for a while, but Spencer was intrigued by the idea of flying in business and first class! Throwing himself into what became an extensive research project, Spencer spent 3-4 hours per night learning everything he could about frequent flyer miles over the course of several months (he thinks this is normal).

Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.

22 comments

  1. How far in advance do you need to book etihad 1st class?

    • Michael McHugh · June 12, 2018 · Reply

      Hi TM

      I would look close-in (JFK to get the award inventory to from JFK>AUH to show up.

  2. I was wondering if it’s possible to add a lap infant to an Asiana airlines award ticket for travel on Etihad First? I just had a ton of trouble trying to do this through Asiana miles, and Etihad refused to add our son to the ticket as it was not issued by them. Wouldn’t they have the same problem with a ticket issued by Asiana too? Or is their problem only with Asiana-issued award tickets? Any ideas?

    • Christine Krzyszton · December 31, 2018 · Reply

      Hello Nash. Although you are traveling on an Etihad-operated flight, Asiana is the carrier that issued the award ticket so they would be the airline to add the infant and reissue the ticket, if necessary. Your best bet is to contact Asiana. Expect to pay 10% of adult mileage cost plus taxes/fees.

  3. Hi, Do you know how the routing works for connecting flights?
    Like say if I wanted to go from SYD –> AUH –> MLE. Would that be considered 100k AA miles? Or would I have to break it up to 2 segments? Thanks!

    • Stephen Au · January 11, 2019 · Reply

      Hey Jackson,

      As long as you are not making a stopover, it will be priced at 100,000 AA miles. If you want to stop over in Abu Dhabi, you will need to pay for two separate segments, which is 100,000 + 40,000 for a total of 140,000 AA miles.

      • Awesome, Thanks!

        Do you know if there has been any success calling the American line +1-(800)-882-8880 ?

        • Stephen Au · January 15, 2019 · Reply

          Hey Jackson,

          That’s the AAdvantage hotline. I find it convenient to call them, feed in some automated information about routes, number of passengers, etc. Thanks for reading!

  4. MillionMilerMan · March 4, 2019 · Reply

    It seems the trick of calling the AA Australian Call Center is dead. They were apparently the only call center that regularly showed EY F (from AUH to the US) availability when the US, UK and other AA Call Centers showed no availability. I’ve been trying to contact the AA Australian Call Center for 3 days at all times of the day. Every time, I get forwarded to the Call Center in the Caribbean (usually Trinidad)–and they do not show availability. This morning I was told by an agent in the Caribbean that they now get 100% of the calls to the Australian Call Center. So, anyone that finds a new trick for unlocking EY F via AA, do let us know.

    • James Larounis · March 5, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Jeff – I was able to call just the other evening and had no issues getting through to the Australian call center. It is my understanding that the Australian call center is still up and running and fully functional.

      • maxraxstax · June 18, 2019 · Reply

        It didn’t work with Australia. I called New Zealand instead and they had no issue, found availability and were able to book. Worked great. It seems some Aus agents can’t see it anymore, but all NZ can.

        • maxraxstax – what is the New Zealand call center number? Thanks!

          • DP:

            Called the New Zealand call center via Skype at +64 09-308-4014 and they were able to easily and quickly find the availability and put it on hold for me. Booking the flight now!

          • Stephen Au · July 17, 2019

            Great! I myself held an Etihad First Class flight yesterday via the NZ call center on Skype (WeChat Out). Thanks for reading!

  5. I heard booking etihad Apartment JFK to AUH with AA miles is no longer available. NO?

    • Hey Rion – that’s incorrect, you can still use AA miles for EY Apartment. Finding availability is very tough from JFK > AUH, but the other way around is a lot easier!

  6. I’m planning on visiting the following cities in the the middle east and Africa (Amman, Tel Aviv, El Cairo) and I want to fly back to NY on Etihad’s apartment AUH-JFK with a final destination being Miami.
    I would like to know how could I book with miles the route, starting on either of the three cities, then AUH-JFK, miami. I know it’s ambitious but I want to know if it’s possible with miles. Or what could be the closest to my wish. I appreciate the help.

    • Stephen Au · April 17, 2019 · Reply

      Hey Juan, of course it’s possible. It just depends on what miles and points you have!

      If you book using AA miles, you’ll be able to book Etihad apartments. Availability is very tough, but it’s possible.

      If flying out of Tel Aviv, look to Star Alliance carriers such as Air Canada Aeroplan or Avianca LifeMiles.

      Keep searching and you’ll be able to find something that works!

  7. Once you have booked a F flight (via AA Advantage) how do you choose your seat – the Ethiad website appears to only give you an option to choose economy seats

    • Stephen Au · April 17, 2019 · Reply

      Tania,

      You’ll need your Etihad Guest record locator or confirmation number. You can either refer to your ticket receipt or look at your AA reservation to get it.

      After that, you can either go to Etihad website or call them to choose seats. Keep in mind sometimes they’ll block seats off so you can’t select them in advance. Thanks for reading.

  8. Richard Winters · May 15, 2019 · Reply

    I have not been able to find this out ANYWHERE. Is it possible to book two first class flights? If not, and one person gets first class and the other gets business or something can they join up and experience some of this together? I have no idea how this is so hard to find. Of course, many of us travel with spouses! And for a trip like this where we want to fly first class we want to be able to do so together! Any thoughts?

    • Stephen Au · May 16, 2019 · Reply

      Richard,

      It’s possible, but as is the case with any top of the line first class product, you’ll have to be tremendously flexible and willing to sit down for hours to look for flights that cost $30,000+ otherwise.. Just keep looking!

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